This used stamp posted in 1851 that was printed on the wrong colour paper has fetched 1.26 million EUR at auction.
Stamps with mistakes are rarely put into circulation, they are incredibly unusual and therefore fetch large sums on the market. But the 1.26-million-EUR (1.124-million-GBP) pricetag surprised even auctioneers who had estimated it would fetch around 800,000 EUR (713,000 GBP).
The tiny square of paper, known as a “9 Kreuzer” is worth such a vast amount of money because it was made in 1851 by a printer that should have used a lilac-pink coloured paper. A Kreuzer was a unit of currency in use in Germany in the 1850s, with 60 Kreuzer worth one Gulden.
Because the printer made a mistake and forgot to change the paper, this particular stamp was printed on a blue-green paper.
It is so famous in stamp circles that it is known as the “BADEN-Misprint”, well known for the fact that it still has excellent colours, with very little damage despite having being used.
The description in the auction catalogue shows it as “only slightly worn, and apart from that, it is completely intact and even the postmark is perfectly positioned.”
There is only one other known example of the stamp with the same, incorrectly coloured paper, which for the last 100 years has been in the possession of the Berlin Postal Museum.
The stamp, which is now up for auction, was part of the collection of the late German-American billionaire businessman Erivan Haub, who was part of the family that owns the Tengelmann Group. He amassed one of the most celebrated collections of stamps from the period.
He is estimated to have had a fortune of around 6.4 billion USD (5 billion GBP) and died in Wyoming, in the United States, last year at the age of 85. His collection of stamps spanned from the first stamps issued in the 1840s, through to the period when the United States started to become a global economic force.
Stamps were first used on a truly commercial basis in Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1st May 1840, when the famous Penny Black was issued. Usage then spread around the world. Previously, the postage fee had usually been paid by the person receiving the letter or parcel.
The stamp was sold at the Heinrich Koehler auction house in Wiesbaden, which is in the central German state of Hesse.
The Ananova page is created by and dedicated to professional, independent freelance journalists. It is a place for us to showcase our work. When our news is sold to our media partners, we will include the link here.